Thanks to its unique geological formation, rich cultural history and extraordinary agricultural qualities, Odsherred became Denmark’s first Geopark. Located 80 km north of Copenhagen, the region boasts kilometers of pristine sand beaches and is one of Denmark’s most popular holiday destinations. Learn more about the first UNESCO global geopark in Denmark.
This supreme geological heritage is constituted mainly by glacial structures formed during the latter part of the Weichselian approx. 17,000 years ago. The most dominant landscape feature is the presence of three very distinct end moraines called the Odsherred Arches, which form the core of the Geopark.
In 2014 Odsherred successfully achieved that status to become the first geopark in Denmark, 17,000 years after the last glaciers had withdrawn from the Danish shores. However, the tracks they left are still evident and nowhere more so than in the beautiful, hilly landscape of Odsherred. When kids at Danish schools learn about the landscape formation, they look at the maps of an area containing some of the most recognizable coastline moraines seen anywhere. However, becoming a Geopark is not just about geology, it’s also about how the landscape has influenced the development of the region.
Together with the glacial depressions and meltwater plains, they represent a classical geomorphological example of a glacial landform, only equaled by very few other places in Europe. When the established society of geologists, not only in Denmark, but also abroad, at the beginning of the 20th century, turned their attention on glacial dynamics and ice age geology, they therefore also focused on Odsherred’s glacial landscape. Since the end of the last ice age, postglacial and coastal processes have shown just as important in forming of the landscape, today still causing a constant change.
The hunebeds in the area are also members of the international network of Megalithic Routes. The UNESCO Global Geopark Network has recognized 90 Geoparks based on the past and present influence of the areas’ geological attributes.
The area of the Odsherred UNESCO Global Geopark is equivalent to that of Odsherred Municipality, populating 33,000 inhabitants. Since the termination of the last glacial period, humans have been making their mark on Odsherred and the landscape has attracted people from far and wide since the early 18th century. Today the area is an attractive holiday destination with more than 26,000 summer residences, thus having the summer population arising to more than 100,000 inhabitants.
The cultural history, arts, and the local produce, are all closely intertwined with the landscape and geology, thereby becoming the four topics of Odsherred UNESCO Global Geopark. As a part of the strong and widespread community involvement, local stakeholders, business, the tourism agency, the national nature agency and associations help to support the socioeconomic development.
Last, but not least, Odsherred has become home to one of Denmark’s best gourmet restaurants, Dragsholm Slot. Expect to be taken on a gastronomic journey thanks to around 20 carefully crafted, innovative and intensely flavored dishes created using local, foraged, seasonal or preserved produce. This atmospheric cellar restaurant is set in the former kitchens of an impressive 800-year-old castle.
The First UNESCO global Geopark in Denmark, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top) Photo: Visit Odsherred